1. The heated debate which has followed the profanation of the secret Alpha et Omega document The Book of the Tomb, recently publicised by Nick Farrell who for the last year or more has announced that he will publish the entire corpus of the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega, including its initiation rituals, has left me in a state of bewilderment. For me it feels surreal to even have to debate such a fundamental principle as that of secrecy and silence. Is the time out of joint, to use the words of Shakespeare, or is it simply me desperately clinging to the past, not being able to catch up with the tides of change?
2. The Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega (or H.O.G.D./A+O) has severely criticized Mr. Farrell for doing so, and for his future plans of further profanation. And rightly so; there is no reason for me to deny that I fully concur in this criticism. But the actual publication isn’t the most surprising, but rather the choir hailing Mr. Farrells actions. And furthermore, which is even more disturbing, the following criticism against the Ros. Cruc. Order of A∴O∴ for condemning these kind of actions. So suddenly, we have become the “villains” in this drama in trying to defend the integrity of our Order, accused of withholding information from the public!
3. So basically it boils down to the fact that there are people out there who consider it being everyone’s personal responsibility, according to one’s own conscience, to decide to follow or not to follow the obligation of secrecy. Therefore, according to the choir of liberals, it is nobody’s right to judge the profaner, not even the Order who’s been victimized with profanation of its documentation. To be honest I find this notion to be not only extremely disturbing but also downright absurd.
4. This last example of profanation made by Mr. Farrell is only part of an ongoing frenzy of publication on the internet of hitherto secret documentation from all remaining branches or derivatives of the Golden Dawn, i.e. the Alpha et Omega, the Stella Matutina (Whare Ra) and A.E. Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, and of lately also the Sun Order (Chromlech Temple). This has been going on since the middle 1980’s when Israel Regardie published The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, but has taking on a new spin after the turn of the Millennium.
5. People often justify this kind of profanation with providing sources for historical reseach, or serving the “Golden Dawn Community”. However people often forget that all three branches of the Golden Dawn tradition, i.e. the Alpha et Omega, the Stella Matutina and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, are still living and breathing bodies. If we were talking about a dead tradition, no longer living, growing and developing, a simple historical curiosity, I wouldn’t mind providing documentation for historical research. But as we all know this is not the case; the Golden Dawn is not in the least passé.
6. The “Golden Dawn Community” can broadly be divided into two main bodies, the solitary practitioners taking published literature as their source material on the one hand, and on the other the Orders and Temples, i.e. working groups. The latter category can further be divided into publicly known organisations with an internet presence and private Temples working unofficially. Most working groups, either big name Orders or independent Temples, draws information from both published sources and unpublished documents from the late 19th and early 20th Century, from all three Golden Dawn derivatives. Unpublished documentation is circulating and is already shared between Temples and Orders. One such good example has been The Book of the Tomb, where several different versions have been known to be circulating.
7. Thus the only part of the “Golden Dawn Community” which really are “benefited” from this kind of publication of secret documentation is the solitary worker. Personally I regard this to be a personal choice working outside of a working Golden Dawn Temple as most people are able today to become initiated physically if their reasons for it are sincere enough. Thus people not choosing initiation, for whatever personal reason, must take the consequences of being restricted to published literature. For me this is only natural; an example of cause and effect. Simply speaking: If you don’t want to be part of the team, you cannot expect to share all the benefits together with the initiates; you can’t eat your cake and have it too.
8. So what I am basically saying is that the justification for profanation falls flat on both accounts. So what we are talking about here is a clear breach of obligation, which cannot be justified by this kind of rationalization by any means, provided it has been done by an initiate of the Golden Dawn. Unfortunately in most cases initiates are responsible for this kind of violation of secrecy, a fact which is really disturbing. I could have understood this if it was made by a uninitiated historian, such as Francis King, but this is often not the case at all.
9. The problem is however that some initiates who are prone in doing this has been initiated in a irregular fashion taking modified oaths of secrecy clearly providing them with the responsibility and opportunity to decide for themselves if and how they should uphold this secrecy; some Temples doesn’t even require secrecy as mandatory. In my opinion this is clearly a serious deviation from the hallmarks not only of the Golden Dawn but the whole of the Hermetic tradition. Temples of this kind cannot expect to receive and share any unpublished material, as they have deviated to far from the very foundation of Hermeticism.
10. What is the first lesson taught to the initiate, to the Neophyte? That of secrecy and of silence. What is the main and pivotal godform of the Hall of Neophytes and one of the Signs of that Grade, who’s name also constitutes the Grand Word of the Neophyte? Harparcrat, the Egyptian god of silence.
11. How is it then that Adepts of today so easily forget about the very first principle that is supposed to be taught to the new member? Is it perhaps a desire of fame, glory and fortune? People are of course ready to pay a lot of money to receive Hermetic secrets without any effort. The temptation may become to strong for the weak hearted.
12. But what about the four Virtues of the Adept? To Will (Velle), to Dare (Audere), to Know (Scire) and to Keep Silence (Tacere), who are corresponding to the Elements thus: Fire (Velle), Water (Audere), Air (Scire), and Earth (Tacere). Again, to follow the course of the Grades in the Golden Dawn and that of Zelator, which is the actual “first” Grade of the Outer Order corresponding to the Earth Element, the first principle for the initiate is to master the principle of Silence.
13. The four Elements and the corresponding virtues constitute the four pillars of the Outer Order which uphold the Inner Order and its sacred mysteries. Take away one of these pillars and the structure will collapse. I would even state that Secrecy constitutes the very foundation upon which the Temple is built. Remember what is said in the Zelator Ceremony: “Except Adonai build the house, their labor is but lost that build it”.
14. In gematria Adonai (ADNI) amounts to 65, which also is the numerical value of Haws (HS), i.e. “To keep silence”. So here we have a confirmation in Gematria that the house, i.e. the egregore of the Temple, must be built by the power of Silence. But as I already have pointed out, this principle is taught already in the first or preparatory Grade of Neophyte, which may be viewed as the foundation upon which the other Elemental Grades rest. Thus, the first three paragraphs of the original obligation of the Neophyte concerns secrecy and states:
I, in the presence of the Lord of the Universe and of this Hall of Neophytes […], do of my own free will and accord hereby and hereon most solemnly pledge myself to keep secret this Order, its name, the name of its members, and the proceedings which take place at its meetings, from all and every person in the whole world who is outside the pale of the Order, and not even to discuss these with initiates, unless he or they are in possession of the password for the time being. Nor yet with any member who has resigned, demitted or been expelled.15. And then regarding the modern view of nobody having the right to condemn the actions breaching this sacred vow, the obligation clearly states:
I furthermore promise and swear that I will keep any information relative to this Order, which may have become known to me Prior to the completion of the Ceremony of my admission and I also pledge myself to divulge nothing whatsoever concerning this Order to the outside world in case either of my resignation, demission or expulsion therefrom, after the completion of my admission.
I further undertake that any such ritual or lecture and any case, cover or box containing them shall bear the official label of the Golden Dawn. I will not copy myself nor lend to any other person to be copied, any ritual or lecture, until and unless I hold the written permission of the Praemonstrator to do so, lest our secret knowledge be revealed through my neglect or error.
…these points I generally and severally, upon this sacred and sublime symbol [i.e. that of the Red Cross surmounting the White Triangle] swear to observe without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation of any kind whatsoever; under the no less penalty on the violation of any or either of them of being expelled from this Order, as a willfully perjured wretch, void of all moral worth, and unfit for the society of all right and true persons, and in addition under the awful penalty of voluntarily submitting myself to a deadly and hostile current of will set in motion by the chiefs of the Order, by which I should fall slain and paralyzed without visible weapon as if slain by the lightning flash. (My emphasis)16. At the end of the Admission ceremony of the Neophyte the Kerux says while mixing the fluids to create the semblance of blood (echoing the old use of blood letting):
As this pure and limpid fluid is changed into the semblance of blood, so mayest thou perish if thou betrayest thine oath of secrecy to this Order by word or deed.17. I believe the original view held in the Order was quite clear regarding this kind of breach of obligation, reading the above paragraphs. If anyone is shocked by this blunt warnings and threats they should be aware that this in pure sweet talk compared to the obligation of a Entered Apprentice in Freemasonry. And Freemasons truly understand the significance of secrecy, at least that is my experience in Sweden. Lastly, even the beautiful Eucharist shared between members at the closing of the Neophyte Grade is an admonition of silence and secrecy:
Nothing now remains but to partake together in silence of the Mystic Repast composed of the symbols of the Four Elements and to remember our pledge of secrecy.18. There is no way of coming around this fact that the obligation of the Neophyte, which is reaffirmed again and again through each advancement of Grade, is binding the initiate into not revealing anything pertaining to the Order. Now, today it is difficult to follow this requirement to the letter. The Golden Dawn tradition has been profaned by a good company of former Order members and oath breakers, such as Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, Paul Foster Case and Dion Fortune.
19. Aleister Crowley profaned the Qabalistic system of correspondences, along with parts of the Enochian Magical system and initiation rituals. Israel Regardie published almost everything that he had received from his Temple (Hermes of the Stella Matutina in Bristol) as a Zelator Adeptus Minor. Paul Foster Case and Dion Furtune didn’t publish anything beyond what Crowley already had published, with the exception of Case profaning the Golden Dawn correspondences between sound and colour.
20. Israel Regardie is the Adept known to have publicised most of this material, and verbatim, in his The Golden Dawn: An account of the teachings, rites and ceremonies of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn between the years 1937-40. With the exception of Dion Fortune the other three mentioned Adepts were against this publication made by Regardie. Crowley was the one most severe in his criticism, which may appear quite hypocritical considering the fact that he had published most of it already in his periodical organ The Equinox between the years 1909-13. The main difference being that The Equinox had a much lesser circulation and originally mainly amongst initiates of the A∴A∴. Regardie’s publication was in contrast made for the public. Obviously The Equinox also soon found its way to a broader audience.
21. Now, regarding Israel Regardie’s publication there is much controversy regarding it being justified or not. My personal position, which doesn’t necessarily reflect that of my own Order, is that Regardie was motivated by a strong desire to save this noble tradition from oblivion. He considered, quite wrongly as it seems in retrospect, that the particular Temple who initiated him was about to perish because of mis-management. What Regardie didn’t know was that there were several Temples operating in the Alpha et Omega at the time which probably would have continued in a traditional fashion wasn’t if for Regardie’s decision to profanize the material. In fact the Hermes Temple which initiated Regardie was one of the longest surving of the original bodies, permanently closing its doors in the late 1960’s, by then working mostly with the Alpha et Omega rituals and curriculum.
22. So in my opinion Regardie did the Order a great disservice, although the Golden Dawn tradition probably never would had exerted such a great impact and influence upon western esotericism hasn’t it been for Regardie and his books. Perhaps I, and others with me, wouldn’t had found this beautiful and venerable tradition if it wasn’t for Regardie. So personally I hold no grudge against Regardie, even though he partly is to be blamed for the highly confused state of today’s Golden Dawn community. But in contrast to Regardie’s original motives in the 1930’s no one can invoke his old justifications in doing something similar today, as obviously the situation is quite different nowadays and perhaps because of books like The Golden Dawn, but sadly enough some individuals continues Regardie’s legacy in furthering this profanation.
23. So considering the fact that much of the material of the Golden Dawn up to and including the Zelator Adeptus Minor level of working is published and widely circulated today puts the original obligation in a somewhat delicate position. There have thus resulted two extreme polarities in dealing with this fact. One such is the extreme traditionalist stance that regards the original obligation to still be in effect, prohibiting their members to read any published literature. On the other hand we have the “open source” stance who regard all material to be part of public domain and for open scrutiny by anyone, initiate or non-initiate. This latter category considers that all hieretho unpublished material of the Golden Dawn should be made public for the benefit of all. Then there is the middle position as represented by my own Order.
24. In the Rosicrucian Order of A∴O∴ the General Reformation anno 1999 was made in response to this situation of our Tradition being made public domain and being in a such strong position in the overall occult community of the West. We found that most students already were proficient in Ceremonial Magic and was already implementing techniques traditionally belonging to Adepts of the Golden Dawn while in the Outer Order. Consequently most of the published material of the Inner Order Theurgical system soon was implemented in a systematical magical training program to prepare the initiate for yet more advanced training in the reformed Inner Order, to meet the needs of the modern initiate.
25. I personally strongly support this middle position, which is reflected in this blog and also in the training of initiates in my Swedish Temple. I believe we must also be allowed to openly discuss and cite the material as published by authors such as Crowley, Regardie, Case and Fortune, and also modern authors, without being accused of breaching our obligations. In this I also consider it being everyone’s own right to publish or discuss one’s own original written material based upon the Golden Dawn tradition. As an example of this, all quotations in this essay are taken from Israel Regardie’s book The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, published in 1984.
26. On the other hand, I am strongly and definitely against any further profanation of unpublished documentation originally written for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (pre-1900), and the post fin-de-siècle derivatives, i.e. for the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega and the Sun Order (because of its close ties with the A∴O∴), for the Stella Matutina, and also for A.E. Waite’s Holy Order of the Golden Dawn and Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. And this, in my opinion, applies to the initiate regardless of whatever branch of the Golden Dawn he himself belongs to; the Obligation of the Neophyte doesn’t only concern the sanctity of the organization administring the initiation, but to the whole of the Golden Dawn. The Hall of Neophytes is alike in all these three members of the body of the Golden Dawn. Thus you as an initiate of a Stella Matutina derivative Temple cannot escape the responsibilites of the Oath of Secrecy just because some papers happen to be labeled “A∴O∴,” and vice versa.
27. Why then all this secrecy, some of you may ask? Let me explain. There are several levels too look upon this often misunderstood matter of secrecy and silence. First of all it’s similar to copyright. For an Order to be able to offer its members something unique and worth while the investment of time and money it has to have its material protected. As copyright law is quite a new and modern invention, the only means traditionally to protect material is to use the seal of secrecy. Thus today’s situation in the Golden Dawn may be compared to the current legal process against Pirate Bay; the Golden Dawn has been hijacked by pirates and buccaneers!
28. The other and more important aspect, especially regarding the initiation rituals, is the element of surprise. For them to create the most optimal environment the element of surprise is a very important factor which mustn’t be underestimated. This is also the argument oftentimes used by Freemasons to protect their secrets.
29. On yet another and even more important level, which is related to the preceding one, is that the training and study program is supposed to be assimilated in parts. Especially the practical Theurgical and Alchemical training relies upon it being assimilated, integrated, and implemented in definite stages, i.e the Grades. This becomes even more important in the higher and more advanced level of training dealing with alchemy.
30. Let me here quote an Alchemical Master’s view regarding the importance of secrecy in relation to advanced training:
The primary function of secrecy in esotericism is not to manipulate others, which has unfortunately been done and continues to be done in bad faith by persons who are not Hermetic Masters. A true Hermetic Master never causes his students to suffer, but maintains secrecy of the more advanced practices rather to protect the body, soul, and mind of the Apprenctice not yet prepared to assimilate these techniques, which when practiced by individuals not yet evolved enough would certainly destroy them.31. The words of a Master. To this I would like to add that the highest secrets of Hermetic Alchemy, to which the Master is referring, has always been guarded by the strictest veils of secrecy. I have been told by my Alchemical teacher that people not understanding this important principle will never receive the keys to unravel the entangled symbolism of Alchemy. And without the true keys Hermetic Alchemy will always be a book sealed with seven seals; the symbols of alchemy will forever be a maze instead of a doorway to proper understanding of these sacred mysteries.
No Hermetic Master who is a true Master would ever give everything all at once to an Apprentice. It is the proper development and spiritual maturation of the Disciple over time that determines their capacity to assimilate more advanced spiritual techniques with their attendant higher states of awareness and realization.
Aspirants today are unwilling to sweat on the books and in the laboratory as have done all true Children of Hermes and thus have discovered the true significance of every term and all of the sequences to put into operation the secrets of the Great Work.
But today, in the age of the Internet, aspirants want easy, immediate, and complete access to information. Above all, they do not want to sweat and work! Of course not. They want to be able to go to a bookstore and buy a book like they do with Regardie’s Golden Dawn, or even better yet, Google a website and voilà ... to become a Hermetic Alchemist reading in clear text all of the secrets of the Royal Art!
Such is the mentality of the 21st Century. But with Hermetic Alchemy, alas, this is not possible. In the Sacred Science, not everything can be given to everyone even if it is revealed because: the Science can not be given, but rather...it must be conquered. And everything not successfully conquered on one’s own remains shrouded in mystery waiting to be discovered, and becomes “secret” only to the degree that it does not become conquered and discovered by hard work and research.
32. The aspirant is thus tested not only of his or her spiritual maturity during the initiatic processes of the First and Second Orders, but also of his or her ability to understand and uphold the sanctity and integrity of the Order through the Principle of Secrecy and Silence. Thus the two first Orders of the Golden Dawn are used to weed out those unworthy to receive the highest Hermetic Mysteries. That is how it always has been done and continues to this day.
33. Then lastly I would like to bring forth yet another perspective which sadly enough hasn’t been grasped even by a few professed Adepts of our tradition, or perhaps this esoteric principle has been very much understood and is used as a weapon in this current War of Roses.
34. I am talking about the creation and maintaining of the hermetically sealed vessel of the egregore, i.e. the group soul. In esoteric lodges secrecy creates a strong and subtle vessel which are able to attract and contain force invoked. This is one important significance of the principle of Harparcrat, which is clearly seen in the Z-2 working of invisibility attributed to the Hebrew letter Shin.
35. Why do you think S.L. MacGregor Mathers changed the Outer Order Rituals of the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega in 1909? Because of the previous Horos scandal, which revealed portions of the Neophyte Ritual, and the profanation of the Rituals which soon followed with the publication of Aleister Crowley’s The Equinox. I also recall Francis King mentioning the mysterious Hermanubis Temple created in 1939 in his Ritual Magic in England, which I will quote here:
In view of Regardie’s publication of the initiation rituals of the Stella Matutina the new Chiefs [of the Hermanubis Temple] made some changes in these ‘so that the Temple members might develop a group-mind of their own’, but these were of a very minor nature.36. This principle of secrecy and silence of the collective may and should also be implemented in the personal magical process of the initiate. I even hold that the positive outcome of this initiatic process depends upon the Principle of Silence. That’s the reason why it is already taught in the Grade of Neophyte and permeates its symbolism.